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New Promising HIV-Prevention Treatment

By Stephfon Guidry

Initial trials of a new HIV injectable treatment, once a month dosage, and the participants maintained a level of the drug within their system that in theory would prevent infection of the virus with little to no side effects.  A new HIV-Prevention drug in testing at London’s Chelsea and Westheimer Hospitals, the study involved 27 women and 6 men; the research was presented at the 19th Annual Conference on Opportunistic Infections.

St. Stephens AIDS Trust (SSAT) conducted the study over a thirty day period, with a single injection of a long-lasting riplivirine—a drug that was released last year by Edurant. The participants were between the ages of 18-50, women were given 300 mg, 600mg, or 1200mg; while the men received a dosage of 600mg and later throughout a 12-week period samples of the women’s vaginal tissue and men’s blood, rectal tissue were monitored to observe the levels of the drug within their system. The results of the study proved quite promising with few side effects (such as tenderness/swelling on the injection site) or no side effects at all.

AidsMap.com reported, “Over the time period, levels of drug seen were about 80% higher in vaginal fluid than in blood in women taking the 300mg dose and about 20% higher in the other two doses: conversely, drug levels in vaginal tissue were about 25% lower than in blood, and 50% lower up to day 14 in the 300mg dose group.” This study presents a shimmer of hope to HIV and AIDS prevention, with more trials and data it could prove viable. ”There is an obvious need in HIV prevention and treatment for formulations that reduce the need for the user to depend on daily administration,” Akil Jackson, a researcher said. (EdgeBoston.com) Maintaining one’s health and preventative medicine is the new look of healthcare which in the future will provide a better quality of living, hopefully this treatment snowballs into a win for the quest for a cure of HIV/AIDS.

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Knowledge is Power: Knowing Your Status is not a Stigma!

By Stephfon Gudiry

World AIDS day is Today, December 1st each year is set aside to give homage and hope to the progress and the history of this epidemic. A documented 1.2 million cases of people living with HIV in the U.S. only 40 percent are taking their medications regularly (based on CDC report released Tuesday).  Atlanta health officials documented that only about 1 in 4 of those infected with the disease is properly taking their medications, primarily due to their lack of being tested for the virus. Living with HIV and AIDS in 2011 might seem a stark reality, a stigmatized existence, or a medical diagnosis that can be overcome.

In Jacksonville, Florida considered to be part of the “bible belt”, some of its 821,000 residents experience the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.  Fear of exposure and fear of stigma with this virus are only aiding in its epidemic. Jacksonville’s own Duval County documented a 33% increase in HIV infections in early 2011. Donna Fuchs, executive director of Northeast Florida AIDS Network, found it hard to set up her organization back in 2000. “HIV carries a huge stigma in our city,” stated Fuchs. (CNN.com) One property owner blatantly told Fuchs that he didn’t want people with AIDS coming into his office building.  Fuchs is not the only AIDS organization on her block but goes on to describe the need to disguise the building, one example of this was taking away the red ribbon on their sign, to appease their clients. Todd Reese, associate director of Health Care Center operations at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, “No one walks into any building or floor that has any association with HIV.”(CNN.com)

In light of the negativity hat is brought in the narrow-minded scope in places like Jacksonville, there are still some who find a way to light the path for others to live. Veronica Hicks, 50 Jacksonville native, HIV positive and she is creating a positive change in her church by starting a support group and testing awareness ministry. Hicks felt that as long as she embraced her status and was open she could create change.

The Center for Disease Control also reported that about 28 percent of individuals infected are properly medicating themselves in order to keep the virus at low levels. Through early detection comes the ability to fight the virus and live a longer fuller life. Magic Johnson, former NBA star turn HIV/AIDS advocate after being infect for 20 years, told CNN: “Early detection saved my life! I’ve done everything I was supposed to do to be here 20 years later. Back 20 years ago there was only one drug now there’s over 30 drugs to take care of you and prolong your life.”  Johnson spoke about having the proper frame of mind and saying that mental acceptance was essential in defeating the disease and prolonging his life!

If you are interested in learning more about HIV and AIDS check out One.org or WorldAIDSday.org as well. GET TESTED and KNOW YOUR STATUS!

Risky Business

By Atiya Jones

Even though the risk of HIV is low for lesbians there are still some activities that can put women who have sex with women at risk for HIV infection.

Sharing Sex Toy – Toys such as vibrators and dildos should always be cleaned in between people if they going to be shared. A condom can also be used.  It’s best if toys aren’t shared at all

Oral Sex – Even though the risk is low through oral sex anything involving bodily fluid causes a risk. And it increases if a there is a sore or cut in the mouth or genital area or if someone is on her period.  To make oral sex safer a dental dam has to be used. A dental dam is a latex barrier that is spread over the vagina to protection the mouth from coming in contact with vaginal fluids or blood.

S & M – Rough sex which may result in bleeding and breaks in the skin such as fisting increases the risk for STDs

Semen Donation – When trying to get pregnant a woman should always know her donor’s medical history and risk factors as in sexual history and drug use.

Drug Use – Just like with any other group sharing needles during drug use increases the risk for HIV.

Sex With Men – Some lesbians still engage in unsafesex with men.

The Relationship between HIV and STDs

By Atiya Jones

Have you ever heard that having a STD makes it easier to get HIV? Well it’s true. Not to be mistaken for the myth that if you have a STD it turns into HIV which is totally not true¸ people who are infected with a STD are two to five times more likely to become HIV infected according to the CDC. In addition if a person who is HIV positive has another STD, they are more likely to transmit HIV.

The reason for the increase of infection is due to break in the lining in the genital area caused by warts in such STDs like syphilis, herpes, and chancroid. It is those breaks that allow HIV to enter the body easy. With STDs that don’t have warts such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis the inflammation due to the disease causes an increase of CD4 cells in vaginal secretions and semen. These are the cells HIV needs to produce and survive.  For someone who is already HIV infected having an additional STD means that there are higher levels of HIV in bodily fluids, therefore making it more likely that HIV will be transmitted to the non-infected partner.

Of course the best way to prevent and decrease the spread of any STD and/or HIV is to treatment the STD and to use protection.

Microbicides: The Forgotten Protection

By Atiya Jones

Condoms are good, but a lot of people don’t use them; mutual monogamy doesn’t always work; and, abstinence is somewhat of a joke. So, how else can someone protect themselves from HIV ? Microbicides might be just the thing. Similar in concept to spermicides, microbicides are a gel that when applied to the vagina or rectum, kill viruses before they can infect a person. Since the early 90s, researchers have been trying to develop microbicides to prevent HIV transmission. Along with adding another weapon to the war against HIV/AIDS, microbicides will be the first form of protection for women that   require a male partner’s cooperation.

What Are Microbicides?

A topical microbicide is any cream, gel, suppository, film, sponge or foam that, when applied or inserted into the vagina or rectum prior to sexual intercourse, prevents HIV or other sexually transmitted infections. Microbicides may even prevent pregnancy. There are no microbicides available yet but several are being tested on humans.

The “perfect” microbicide would have to be colorless, odorless, inexpensive, safe to use multiple times a day and for long periods of time, work against more than one STD, be available without a prescription, and be completely undetectable. It’s a tall order for a single product, but these demands are made for good biological, cultural and logistical reasons.

From a biological standpoint, women are physically more susceptible than men to HIV and other STDs. However, women must rely on their male partners to provide protection from these diseases. In some cultures, women simply do not have the power to insist that male partners use condoms, especially if its her husband. In addition, asking a male partner to use protection is sometimes equal to accusing him of having HIV or infidelity. For these cultural reasons, women must be able to use microbicides without detection.

What We Learned From Nonoxynol-9

Another advancement in microbicide design actually followed from the failure of spermicides in preventing HIV infection. The widely used spermicide nonoxynol-9 initially appeared to prevent HIV and other STDs in laboratory testing, but fell short once it was tested in women. In fact, nonoxynol-9 may actually increase HIV transmission because it causes small disruptions in the vaginal cells that may make it easier for the virus to enter. Among the lessons learned from nonoxynol-9 is that an effective microbicide would have to be easy on the cells in the vagina.

What’s in it for Men?

Women wouldn’t be the only ones benefiting from the development of microbicides. The Global Campaign for Microbicides also believes that a male would be protected if his female partner has HIV and uses a microbicide. There are also plans for a rectal microbicide (for use in the anus), which will help the gay community, especially men of color who have sex with men. Men of color now account for almost half of new HIV infections among MSM.

Clinical trials have been underway since the early 90s, but several different factors have conspired to keep an effective microbicide from reaching the market. First, many large pharmaceutical companies do not see microbicides as a profitable product. Without the financial and logistical muscle of Big Pharm, much of the development of microbicides has been left to academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and small biotech companies.

While female-controlled forms of birth control have been around for many years, microbicides are the female-controlled forms of STD protection. While they are not a magic bullet for stopping the HIV/AIDS epidemic, microbicides promise to be an important weapon for women, who have been left unarmed in this battle.

HIV: Acute Infection

By Atiya Jones

Your body aches, you have a fever, and your throat is sore. You think it’s the flu and so does your doctor. It doesn’t cross your mind that it might be HIV especially since you only have one partner. The symptoms go away but HIV is rapidly increasing in your body. This is what is known as the acute stage of HIV infection.  Almost half of individuals newly infected during what is known as seroconversion have acute symptoms.  Serocoversion is when the body develops antibodies to HIV going from negative to positive.  It may take weeks to a few months after being infected for these antibodies to show on a test, so a person may test negative even though they are positive.

In addition to the symptoms mentioned earlier an infected person may also experience loss of appetite, fatigue, headache, unexplainable rash, diarrhea, malaise, swollen lymph glands, and ulcer in the mouth and throat.  Being that HIV is replicating so fast during  the acute stage that is usually when it is spread the most. Most people are infected by someone who is newly infected.

Being that the symptoms of acute HIV infection are so similar to the flu it’s important to be honesty with yourself and your medical professional. If you know for example you are having unprotected sex with just one or multiple partners or you’re sharing needles or your partner uses drugs involving a needle tell your doctor. Early detection will help to slow down the virus, protect your immune system, and stop the spread of HIV.

PrEParation

By Atiya Jones

Could you imagine waking up every morning and taking the same antiviral medications that someone who’s HIV positive takes, even though you are negative? Going to pick up PrEP or Pre Exposure Prophylaxis may become just as common as going to buy condoms before a hot date. Modeled after Post Exposure Prophylaxis better known as PEP, PrEP is a HIV prevention method where an individual who engages in high risk activities such as sharing needles and unprotected vaginal and anal sex take antiviral drugs before actually being exposed. With PEP’s success rate of over 80 percent of preventing HIV infection when taken after being exposed, there are still numerous studies taken place to see if PrEP is as safe and effective.  PrEP will no time soon replace condoms or clean needles but will give people who can’t negotiate safer sex with their partners more options.

Before you go looking to sign up for a clinical trial remember that antiviral medication come with a lot of side effects and can make your body build up a drug resistance in the event you become infected later there will be one less drug you could use to fight the virus.  You have to also wonder how much something like this would cost and will insurance cover it.

“Tyler and Me: A Day I Will Never Forget” – By Nelson Morales Jr.

Nelson Morales Jr., Rutger’s University Student and 2011 Summer intern youth blogger for the GET DOWN PSA and Campaign, shares a personal reflection on the Tyler Clementi tragedy one year later in his article entitled “Tyler and Me: A Day I Will Never Forget”. On September 22, 2010, Nelson was gearing up to celebrate life on his birthday, while a fellow Rutger’s student Tyler chose to end his. Nelson and Tyler will forever share September 22, a day that Nelson will always remember.

GET DOWN is the edgy HIV/AIDS public service announcement campaign that frankly portrays sexually active teens/youth of various sexual identities, who are experimenting with multiple sexual partners, and the consequences they deal with as a result. The GET DOWN PSA BLOG is where people of all ages and backgrounds can share stories, opinions, facts and “newsy bits” about HIV/AIDS related topics in an effort to encourage healthy, productive and positive dialogue and maintain heightened awareness. The GET DOWN PSA BLOG cover not just HIV/AIDS and safe sex, but sexual behavior, identity and the issues here and abroad that affect these areas. Our supporters include Dawn Richard (Dirty Money) and DeMarco Majors (LOGO’s Shirts and Skins) who both starred in the PSA’s.

Here is an Excerpt from Nelson Morales Jr’s Blog Article. For the full Article please Visit the GET DOWN PSA BLOG.

On September 22nd, 2010, I celebrated my 20th birthday while a student at Rutgers University. I sat in my dorm room sorting through the birthday comments I had received on Facebook and doing my Spanish homework. However, what I didn’t realize was that on that same day, first-year Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, would take his own life by jumping off of the George Washington Bridge.

During the following week, I saw several Facebook posts from other Rutgers students that there were news reports about a sex tape that was recorded in a Rutgers dorm. I didn’t think much of it; “probably some dumb freshman” was my thought. But in the next couple of days the local and national media started to converge into Rutgers creating a media frenzy and the story started to come to light. The name Tyler Clementi started to appear in the papers and newscasts along with Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei.

The reported story was that Ravi set up a video camera in his room (Tyler Clementi and Dharun Ravi were roommates) and captured Tyler having sex with another guy. The video was apparently streamed online via Molly Wei’s room and promoted on Ravi’s twitter account. It was reported that Tyler felt that he was being bullied because of his sexuality and spoke about the situation with his resident assistant, through the university (Rutgers Housing and possibly through RUPD), and online via a message board from the website Just Us Boys.

My guess is that Tyler was seeking help on his situation but decided to take his own life for the fear that everyone would know he’s gay. One week after my birthday, on September 29th, the police found Tyler’s body north of the George Washington Bridge where he apparently jumped to his death. His death shook the campus and received worldwide attention. I myself was interviewed on WCBS 880 AM, PIX 11, and Telemundo about his death.

What made this case hit so close to home was the fact that the dorm that Ravi and Molly videotaped Tyler in was right across from where I was living. When I was in my afternoon class, I stumbled upon an article from MyCentralJersey.com that stated that the filming incident was recorded in Davidson Hall. I lived in Winkler hall my junior year, which is right across from Davidson residential hall. My friends and I just couldn’t believe it the incident happened on our campus, right next to us. I was surprised that a story that received worldwide attention developed across the street from where I lived……. Click Here for Full Article

Morales, Jr. N. (2011, September 20). “Tyler and Me: A Day I Will Never Forget”. Retrieved from GET DOWN PSA BLOG.

Just a Minute of Your Time: Rapid HIV Testing

By Atiya Jones

Getting an HIV test can be one of the most stressful tests you will ever take. In the past getting the result took days, weeks, and even months. What most people don’t know is now you can have peace of mind in 20 minutes and in some cases as little as 5 minutes with a rapid HIV test.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 30 % of people who tested positive and 39 % of people who tested negative using conventional testing in 2000 did not return for their results. With rapid testing almost everyone tested received their results. There are currently four rapid test approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use: OraQuick, Reveal, Uni-Gold, and Mulispot.

Rapid HIV test results are anywhere between 99-100 % accurate. A negative result doesn’t require confirmatory testing. Through counseling and risk assessment the counselor will be able to tell the individual getting tested if they need future testing due to an acute infection, meaning the body has not yet developed HIV antibodies. If the patient is still in this window period they will need to be tested again in three months.

If a patient received a positive (reactive) result from a rapid test it is said to be preliminary positive. This kind of result needs to be followed up by a western blot and/or standard EISA test which is known as confirmatory testing. Once results are in from the western blot a positive result confirms HIV infection and a negative result says that the patient is free of infection or may need to re-test due to the window period.

Rapid testing increases the amount of people who know their status and get help for HIV infection if needed. It also decreases the spread of the virus, because people are more likely to protect themselves and others if they know they’re HIV positive. Rapid testing is accurate, convenience, easy, and available everywhere for free. Get tested!

Know Your Status.. Visit one of these Clinics to Find Out!

  GMHC
119 West 24 Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 367-1000

Callen-Lorde
356 W 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 271-7200

Brooklyn AIDS Task Force (BATF)
502 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 622-2965

Bronx AIDS Service (BAS)
953 Southern Blvd
Bronx, NY 10459

The Health Department Free and Confidential STD Clinics
Call 311

Inject Me

By John Edmondson

I walk in darkness
Cold brick walls
Looking for my fix.
I need to hurry
My conscience is knocking
Back to where it began.

Inject me with your bliss
Sharing needles
Spreading  disease.
Day 1 of my HIV
It hurts too much to regret
So I continue to inject.

This dark world is my home
It will be my grave
One day I’ll fade away.
Until that day
I’ll poke at my pain
Distracting truth.

Truth will never speak
I won’t give it a chance
This needle cries the blues…

PEP Rally

By Atiya Jones

The condom just broke and your partner turns over and says to you I’m HIV positive. What’s your next move? Do you:  A) begin to freak out.  B) Go to the kitchen and get a knife to cut your partner or C) Do you get yourself together and head to your local emergency room for something called PEP. Those of you opting for the steak knife may want to reconsider. The correct answer is B) get yourself together and head to your local emergency room for PEP.

PEP or post-exposure prophylaxis is short term HIV antiretroviral medication. Intended to be taken within 72 hours of exposure PEP has a better chance of working the sooner you take it. Made up of about four pills PEP ought to be taken for 28 days. Its purpose is to give the immune system an opportunity to provide protection against HIV and prevent it from developing in the body.

PEP is made up of the same medication given to HIV positive individuals so there are some side effect such as diarhea, headaches, nausea, vomiting and fatigue. According to Avert.org, “Some of these side effects can be quite severe and it is estimated that 1 in 5 people give up the treatment before completion.”

A study performed among healthcare workers shows that PEP is 80 % effective. Due to the seriousness and side effects PEP shouldn’t be used as the HIV morning after pill.  Some of the cases PEP should be taken is if you’re rape or sexually assualted, you have unprotected with someone who is HIV positive, the condom brokes or comes out during intercourse,  or you share neddles with someone who’s HIV status is unknown. When in doubt go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

 Know Your Status.. Visit one of these Clinics to Find Out!

  GMHC
119 West 24 Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 367-1000

Callen-Lorde
356 W 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 271-7200

Brooklyn AIDS Task Force (BATF)
502 Bergen Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 622-2965

Bronx AIDS Service (BAS)
953 Southern Blvd
Bronx, NY 10459

The Health Department Free and Confidential STD Clinics
Call 311

Whenever You’re Ready

By John Edmondson

I know you wonder
Why am I here?
I felt you could use a friend.
You look lonely
It’s okay to be honest with me
That chip on your shoulder looks heavy.

I don’t want to kill you
With my kindness
I want to show you love.
Your secrets leave you weary
It’s all on the table
Nothing to hide.

Don’t mask your burdens
I won’t judge you
A true friend is here.
Educate me
Vent to me
I have a patient ear.

Rapid Test

By John Edmondson

These 4 walls
Give me room to think
Stale white purgatory
I’m anxious with anticipation.

My thoughts run wild
“What if”s beat me down
Metaphorically running in circles
Worries glue me to my seat.

She said she’d be back in 20
Keeps me waiting
ELISA you toy with my time
Where are you?

The door opens
In comes my diagnosis
Am I positive
Yes or No?